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THE ROCK FATHER: THE POP CULTURE MAGAZINE FOR FAMILIES THAT ROCK.

Kick-Off Spring with Scotts Plus OxiClean Outdoor Cleaner and a $50 AMEX Giveaway!

Five years ago, right after my wife and I bought this house and moved in, I took to the outside with a spray bottle of outdoor cleaner to attack the siding and deck. Not only did it not work very well, but shortly afterward I discovered that I'd completely ruined a brand new t-shirt and shorts. The reason? Overspray from chlorine bleach, which I'd neglected to notice was the primary ingredient. Not cool. With evolving landscape and gardening projects, we're always looking for new and safe ways to do things, and that's why Scotts® Plus OxiClean™ Outdoor Cleaner was immediately intriguing - the ability to get the house, deck and all of the girls' Step2 play equipment nice and clean without harming our plants. Plus, it's from Scotts - a trusted brand whose products I use regularly here at Rock Father HQ.

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Container Gardening: Plotting & Planting with Costa Farms' Desert Escape Collection of Cactus & Succulents...

Desert EscapeThe folks at Costa Farms recently served-up a challenge for me. They'd send me an assortment of cactus and succulents from their new Desert Escape Collection, and I'd see what kind of creative container I could whip up with them. Thing is, we live in Northern Illinois, so these will be indoor plants for much of the year - and since we don't have a desert landscape, I'm not very familiar with working with these varieties, aside from handling them on occasion in the years that I ran some Garden Centers (a few lives ago). I thought it would be a fun project for the girls and I, but had no idea just how big a production it could become. What I thought would be a one-container project actually became five, and we had a whole lot of fun with this - creating some interesting miniature landscapes where adventure was hiding just below the surface. For a couple of them, you could even say that they looked like something from "a galaxy far, far away..."

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Home Improvement: The Complete Window Replacement of Rock Father HQ - Part II: The In-Home Consultations...

As I posted earlier this month, my wife and I are finally about to start tackling some of the home improvement issues that have been lurking within the property lovingly dubbed, "Rock Father HQ." If you're just joining us, the basic gist is this: In 2010 we purchased a 1,300 sq. ft. home in Chicago's Northern Suburbs, a house that was built in 1990, and one we knew had some issues. Like most homes, it looks pretty good on the surface, but when you dig deeper, there's some things that are pretty bad - several of which stem from the previous owners, two of which fancied themselves to be "handy" - and one of whom shoddily put in windows because he "got a deal" on them. Our first project is fixing said windows, and today I'm going to walk you through my in-home consultation experiences with Pella Windows and Doors, The Home Depot, Renewal by Andersen and Feldco. The fun part? I didn't tell any of these companies that I would be writing about this experience. Out of courtesy, I did reach out to the PR team for the company that did score our business, but only after my wife and I had already done the deal and paid for the job. Bottom line: This post is not sponsored by anyone.

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Gardening: Three Tips for Growing a Chemical-Free Garden...

As the Garden Section of THE ROCK FATHER is ramping-up again for 2015, we're planning our gardening activities for the new season, and in-turn are thinking about how to be as "green" as possible. In all honesty, "going green" when it comes to lawn and garden chemicals is not easy - and while I've made a mighty effort for the past five years, I've been unable to go 100%. With that in mind, the folks over at Birds & Blooms have offered-up three tips for growing a chemical-free garden that I'm sharing with you today.

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Home Improvement: The Complete Window Replacement of Rock Father HQ - Part I: The Beginning

It's time to start improving our home... and that means I'm going to write about it. That picture up top? That's Rock Father HQ. Pretty on the outside... but some evil lurks within...

When my wife and I bought this house five years ago, we knew that there were some issues. On the surface and in the listing, the house looked nice - a somewhat "normal," generally modest 1,300 sq. ft. home in Chicago's Northern suburbs. The two-level (three, if you count the two steps down to the family room) house was built in 1990 as part of the subdivision boom of the era, and like many homes of the time, probably went up quick and with some corners cut. I would've loved "newer" and "bigger" (really wanted a basement), but my wife and I agreed that the house was good, the price was ok and it had the good size yard were hoping for - but most importantly - it had the schools we wanted and we could make it beautiful. As with any home purchase, the inspection found some problems, a few of which we knocked-out right away, and some others that were destined to sit for a bit. Maybe even a bit too long.

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Garden: My Miracle-Gro LiquaFeed Universal Feeder and Thinking Spring...

It was actually 50° here today. That is an exciting development, and a reminder that while there's still a nasty amount of dirty snow outside that's finally starting to melt, just four weeks from now baseball will started, and green grass will be seen at least somewhere here in Illinois. As we "think Spring," I can't wait to hit the garden with the girls, and I'm already scoping out some new tools for 2015 - one of which has already arrived. The folks at Scotts Miracle-Gro sent me their new Miracle-Gro LiquaFeed Universal Feeder Starter Kit, and I can't wait to try it out...

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